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Military Wives

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The Military Wives were a collective of U.K.-based choirs, some of which were born out of the fourth series of the Gareth Malone-fronted TV documentary series The Choir, which aired in late 2011. Following the deployment of her husband to Afghanistan in 2009, Nicky Clarke contacted Malone with news of her intention to set up a choir in Catterick, North Yorkshire. The resulting formation of the Military WAGS Choir provided an opportunity for servicemen's wives, affiliates, and girlfriends -- as well as servicewomen -- to share their passion for music and help to unite the community of Catterick Garrison, the largest British Army garrison in the world. Malone was inspired to assist in the setting up of two similar choirs in Devon -- one at Royal Marines Base, Chivenor and the other at Royal Citadel, Plymouth -- and the formative steps of these endeavors were closely documented in his popular U.K. TV show. Building on the success of the series, a Decca-issued, Paul Mealor-composed single "Wherever You Are" reached the Christmas 2011 U.K. number one spot, knocking that year’s X Factor winners Little Mix from their perch. Further momentum was gained as a result of this exposure, which led to the creation of additional choirs in Lympstone and Portsmouth. Recordings by each of the five choirs were collated on In My Dreams, the Military Wives' debut full-length, which was issued in March 2012. It featured material originally performed by U2, Coldplay, and Bob Dylan, while the title track was another Mealor composition. He had become the British composer of choice for such projects following the inclusion of his motet "Ubi Caritas et Amor" during Prince William and Catherine Middleton's wedding ceremony the previous year. In My Dreams became a U.K. number one album and their chart success continued in May when members of the choirs appeared on Gary Barlow's "Sing," a composition that commemorated the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and reached number one in the U.K. singles chart. Later in 2012 the success of the Military Wives' debut had spawned 24 choirs across the U.K. and as far as Germany and Cyprus. Over 700 members came together that year to record their second album, Stronger Together, which included songs such as Take That's "Rule the World," poignant renditions of classics "Right Here Waiting for You" and "When Will I See You Again," and two original tracks penned by choirmaster and mentor Malone. ~ James Wilkinson

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2009 in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshi

Years Active:

'00s, '10s